01. Introduction: Cross country road trip in a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
02: Day 1: San Diego, CA to Deming, NM
03: Day 2: Deming, NM to Amarillo, TX
04: Day 3: Amarillo, TX to Maumelle, AR
05: Day 4: Maumelle, AR to Knoxville, TN
06: Day 5 part A: Driving the Tail of the Dragon
07: Day 5 part B: Knoxville, TN to Salem, VA
08. Day 6: Salem, VA to Dulles, VA
09. Trip summary and final thoughts
10: Review: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Driving across the USA from coast to coast has been a long time travel goal of mine, and it’s something I’ve been struggling trying to find the time to do for the past several years. Carving something like this out of a busy schedule is not easy, especially since I wanted to be sure that I had enough time to stop and see things along the way. I was *this* close to giving up on it again for the 2015 calendar year in favor of other commitments, but I decided that I didn’t want to push it off any longer. I’m not getting any younger, and this is the kind of trip that is only going to get more difficult as I get older. I want to drive! Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t share the same enthusiasm about road trips as I do, so I would have to make this drive solo. She didn’t mind though – as a matter of fact, she was more excited about having the house to herself for a week than I was about doing this drive!
The longest road trip I’ve ever taken up until now was a drive from Michigan to California in February of 2004 in my 2002 Celica GT. I was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, I was in a hurry to make it to California as fast as I could (I was starting a new job) and I didn’t have time take things slow and enjoy the experience. This trip was going to be different. I wouldn’t have an unlimited amount of time, but I’d have enough to do it at a leisurely pace which would allow me to stop and see the sights whenever I felt like it.
I only had a week off of work to do this cross-country road trip, so I knew right off the bat that it wouldn’t be possible to drive both directions. I’d either have to fly to my destination and drive back to San Diego, or drive then fly. I opted to drive east, thinking that I’ve already driven from east to west back in 2004 and it would be nice to do it differently this time.
The destination I chose was Washington D.C. I had been thinking about going all the way up to Boston, but 20 minutes of experimenting on Google Maps revealed that it was simply too far if I didn’t want to drive 10-12 hours each day. I definitely didn’t want to to that, so I dialed back my expectations a bit and settled on the nation’s capitol instead. It certainly qualified as an east-coast destination, and I’ve never been there before, so there.
Along the way, there were only two places that were on my must-see list. The first was Clovis, New Mexico (the place where I was born), and the other was the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee. Clovis would be quick – I knew there is nothing there, but I just wanted to see the place with my adult eyes. Even before starting this journey I knew it would be kind of like what they did at the Grand Canyon in National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation: stop, get out of the car, take a picture, look for 2 seconds to soak it all in, and then get back in the car and drive off into the sunset.
Driving the Tail of the Dragon would take more time. I’ve been a loyal fan of Killboy since the beginning, and his pictures have been inspiring me for years to drive that road at least once. It was a little bit out of the way on my route to D.C., but worth the detour for the chance to experience it myself.
Ok, so now that I had a destination and route planned, the real fun began. What was I going to drive?? It crossed my mind to take a risk and do the drive in my aging 1996 Mustang GT (drive it out, ship it back), but part of this journey will involve driving through some very desolate country in the western half of the US, and my luck would have that thing quitting (and probably exploding) as far from civilization as possible. I’d hate to be only two days into my trip with a broken car in the middle of nowhere!
Renting a car seemed like a better option. To be honest, I didn’t need to do this trip in a really nice car. This journey was all about setting out on the open road with nothing but a change of underwear and my sense of adventure, so all I really needed was something reliable enough to make the trip without problems. But the car guy in me couldn’t resist looking at the high-end options from Hertz and Avis first. The air was quickly let out of my tires after browsing what Hertz was offering, which was pretty much nothing. None of their premium cars were available for a cross-country drop-off out of San Diego.
Avis, on the other hand, surprised me. They had pretty much everything available, at somewhat decent rates as well. BMW 3 and 5 series, Cadillacs, SS Camaro’s, SUV’s etc. They were even offering Corvettes, which had me so excited that I don’t even think I paused for a millisecond before smashing the “reserve now” button. Yes, it was an expensive choice but doing a cross-country trip across the USA in America’s Sports Car seemed like the right thing to do.
I admit that I was a bit skeptical about scoring a Corvette right up until the point where they actually gave me the key fob on the morning of departure. Back in June of 2006 I tried to rent a Shelby GT-H Mustang from Hertz here in San Diego for a road trip up to Sequoia National Park and back, but they backed out at the last second saying that they don’t rent those cars to locals. Therefore, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get that same line from Avis or not. But like I said, it didn’t really matter. I honestly would have been just as happy in a base model Ford Focus just as long as it got me out on the open road to see the USA.
Ready to for a coast to coast road trip across the USA in a brand new Corvette? Let’s go drive through some flyover states!